Before World of Warcraft, there was Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). For those who haven’t played, it’s a medieval MMORPG originally from Mythic Entertainment, now owned by EA. It was DAoC that formed the basis of many of the game mechanics now found in Warhammer Online. Camelot is still alive today, but its popularity has only decreased since newer games have come out. Well what if you could play DAoC whenever you wanted, and had full control over the game mechanics (XP rate, drops, character attibutes), and play for free? You can with Dawn of Light – an open source server “emulator” that can be run on your Windows desktop.
It’s important to note that there are four pieces involved in a running game of DAoC:
Server: The game server (in this case, Dawn of Light) which accepts logins and coordinates all game activity. This includes combat, weather, AI, and virtually all other game actions.
Database: All the actual content, from players to equipment to quests, is stored in the database. It’s very important to realize the difference between the server software (Dawn of Light) and the database it reads from. When you need to change an aspect of the game, you change it here. Just about everything you will need to edit will be found here, such as XP rate and NPC locations.
Client: Presuming you intend to actually play on your server, you need the actual Dark Age of Camelot game. Fortunately this is a free download at DarkAgeofCamelot.com. You do not need the 14-day trial account, you can skip registration and download the client only.
Portal: When you launch the Camelot game, it would normally attempt to connect to the official servers. Clearly this isn’t what we want. DOL’s developers include a Portal with the package, it’s a small desktop program that lets you manage and launch custom servers.
Configuring the Server and Standard Database
The Dawn of Light server software includes a database that does not live up to the official servers, but provides enough data for an enjoyable game. Alternate databases will be discussed in the next section. The server and db can be downloaded together (or individually) here.
Before launching your server, you’ll want to run the DOLConfig application (as Administrator, if necessary) to set some basic server setup done.
You’ll want to pay particular attention to Game Type and IP. Your game type will determine if and how various RvR settings will be implemented, such as the keeps and towers in the frontiers. Your IP is the address the server is monitoring for connections.
IMPORTANT: If you set this to your localhost address (127.0.0.1), your local client will connect fine, but other computers will not. Make sure you use a real IP (like 192.168.1.10, or whatever yours might be).
On the Database tab, you’ll probably want to set the type to MySQL, with settings similar to the screenshot below. I should note that if you downloaded the all-in-one DOL package, the connection test might fail, as MySQL is not launched until you start the server. If you simply cannot get SQL connection working, you can try using XML as your database, though you may encounter performance and configuration problems.
Configuring the Client
Download: As noted above, the client can be freely downloaded from DarkAgeofCamelot.com. Expect the download to take a while. A long while.
Rollback: Normally, you’d be able to install the client, launch the portal (coming up next) and you’re ready to go. The only problem is that the current release of Dawn of Light does not support the latest release of the client software. This means there’s one extra step – the rollback. We’ve got to downgrade the client a little bit to make it fully compatible. The DOL forums keep up on rollbacks and the current thread on the topic is here.
Dawn of Light Portal
To launch your game to a custom server, you’ll need the Portal. It’s a small Windows application and its purpose is to let you find, manage, and connect to custom servers. It can be downloaded here, and installs much like any Windows application.
To set up connection to your local server, click the Custom Shardsr button. Next, right click any of the blank white space and add a new custom server.
If the dot is red, that means that either the server software is not running (launch Dawn of Light as Administrator) or that the portal has incorrect server settings. If the dot is green, you can create any username and password you wish, and log in. The server will save that information for future logins. If you want your friends to be able to connect, make you you forward port 10300 to your game server.
Alternate Databases and Advanced Config
If the builtin database is not enough for you, there are a few alternates. A few projects have sprung up dedicated solely to growing a massive DOL database. A quick search of SourceForge.net will bring up several examples, such as this and this.
If you want more server options than DOLConfig provides, there is a table in the database that holds several values for user adjustment. Install any SQL client you wish (SourceForge is a friend here as well) and open the DOL database to the server properties table. Each item will provide a description of the setting and a default value.
DAoC is a little bit dated by current MMO standards, but it’s still a whole lot of fun for those who know the game. DOL still has a way to go before it’s fully live-like, but even the standard built-in database is enough for an enjoyable game among friends. With Dawn of Light, you can once again begin breaking down towers and lasting that nasty Lurikeen who keeps stabbing you from behind.
Oh and for all you old-schoolers:
Currin, 50 Scout Alb/Guin/Divinity
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